2020 Book Recs + 2021 Reading Wishlist


Do any of y’all have a Goodreads account? Because if anyone ever asked me to rank my social media apps from Most Useful to Least Useful, my Goodreads account would be at the very top of my Most Useful list.

Thanks to Goodreads, I keep track of all the books I read throughout the year…and I read 31 books in 2020!!! That’s three more than I read in 2019! Now, four of those books were comic books (a fact for which I shan’t apologize, especially since Goodreads considered them legit entries). But I still read some pretty hefty selections–and thanks to an unpleasant struggle with insomnia, I stayed up later and got to read more consistently than I ever have before.

Here is the full list of all my reading in 2020 (minus 1/3 of Les Miserables, which kept me entertained during the first two weeks of December):

  1. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higgenbotham
  2. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (re-read)
  3. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
  5. The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden
  6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Jason Fry
  7. The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay
  8. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson
  9. The Rise of Kylo Ren Volume 1 by Charles Soule
  10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (re-read)
  11. The Rise of Kylo Ren Volume 2 by Charles Soule
  12. The Rise of Kylo Ren Volume 3 by Charles Soule
  13. The Rise of Kylo Ren Volume 4 by Charles Soule
  14. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (re-read)
  15. The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict of Nursia
  16. Cress by Marissa Meyer (re-read)
  17. Circe by Madeline Miller (audiobook)
  18. Winter by Marissa Meyer (re-read)
  19. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  20. Circe by Madeline Miller (hardcover version)
  21. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  22. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  23. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
  24. Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (re-read)
  25. Accidental Theologians by Elizabeth A. Dreyer
  26. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (re-read)
  27. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (re-read)
  28. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (re-read)
  29. The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
  30. Valiant by Sarah McGuire (re-read)
  31. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (re-read)

But out of those thirty-one books, which ones would I actually recommend to you, my merry readers?

It really depends on what you’re looking for, but the following titles are the ones I enjoyed the most and highly recommend if these topics and/or genres interest you. (And remember, {*} after a link indicates an Amazon affiliate link!  If you make any purchase on Amazon through one of these marked links, you’re supporting A Writer’s Tale at no additional cost!)

  • Midnight in Chernobyl*. After watching HBO’s fantastic miniseries on the 1986 Ukrainian nuclear disaster, I couldn’t stop reading about it. This is an excellent, informative book that reads more like a story than a dry, dull historical text. You can read my review of the Chernobyl miniseries here.
  • The Enlightenment of Bees*. This delightful contemporary tale made me cry–and I hardly ever cry for books. This novel, however, spoke to some of the tender places in my creative, idealistic heart and reminded me that “many small things make the world a brighter and happier place.” You can read my full review of this book here.
  • Cinder*, Scarlet*, Cress*, Winter*. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer gives the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White the dystopian sci-fi treatment, and it is awesome. My own novel, Operation Lionhearted, would not exist without the inspiration these books gave me when I first read them back in 2016–and they only get better with each re-read!
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren*. A nerdy recommendation, to be sure, but if you’re a fan of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy like m’self, this comic (written by Charles Soule and beautifully illustrated by Will Sliney) is a must-read. I’ve referenced back to it many times while writing my own Star Wars fanfiction.
  • Circe*. This is, without a doubt, one of the most compelling, well-written, haunting, and beautiful novels I have ever read in my entire life–and I do not say that lightly. The audiobook, read by Perdita Weeks, is incredible. You can read my full review of this novel here.
  • Accidental Theologians*. When I was in desperate need of some relatable role models, this book about the four female Doctors of the Church–Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux–came to the rescue. You can read my full review of this book here.
  • The Right to Write*. It took me six months to make my way through this one, but I didn’t mind: I needed time to process Julia Cameron’s empowering, practical advice for writers like myself! I can’t recommend this book highly enough to my fellow storytellers.
Got a new bookcase with some Christmas money! What do you think? See any familiar titles?

Last but not least…what about my 2021 reading goals? What do they look like?

Well, thanks to some supplements and better sleep hygiene, I’m nodding off by 10 PM and no longer reading at quite the same breathless pace! But here’s a peek at the books I still want to read (or, in the case of Bloodline and Periwinkle, have already read) in 2021:

  • Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray (review incoming!)
  • Periwinkle by Jordan Durbin (which I beta-read last year and reviewed here)
  • A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle by Sarah Arthur
  • The Merry Rise of Skywalker by Ian Doescher
  • The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  • The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
  • The Story of With by Allen Arnold
  • Everything is Yours by Kris Camealy
  • Sensing God by Joel Clarkson
  • Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
  • The rest of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay
  • Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Baby Grogu wants to get in on the fun, too! Why yes, I’m a mother now…and I don’t know who loves him more, me or my little sisters!

So what about you? What are your reading goals for 2021? Let me know what you’re reading or planning on reading in the comments section! I’m always up for some new recommendations 😉

9 thoughts on “2020 Book Recs + 2021 Reading Wishlist

  1. I definitely want to read Accidental Theologians now 😀 I need me some encouragement from some powerful Catholic single ladies.

    I just finished reading The Great Gatsby for the first time, and I hope to read The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) this year as well. I’m deep in edits for the third draft of my Holocaust novel about a Jewish girl in hiding in Amsterdam, and while I’ve purposely avoided Anne Frank’s diary up until now because I didn’t want to unintentionally “copy” anything, I think I’m now ready to experience it.


    1. I really think you’d love Accidental Theologians! A friend of ours recently commented on how we can still be “mentored” by Christians of long ago through their writings, and that’s exactly what the four female Doctors have done for me!

      That’s absolutely brilliant, waiting to read Anne Frank until you’d written your own story. I can see how that might’ve been a little paralyzing to begin with. I’ve never read the entire diary, but we do have it in our home; I should give it a try sometime!


  2. Sensing God is on my list too! It showed up in the mail last week–I didn’t even know it had been published–because my dad is the best. 🙂 All Creatures Great and Small is high on my to-read list, as well, since the current Masterpiece show is such a balm to my soul. This may be the year I finally get around to Till We Have Faces.

    I have found a wonderful community in Goodreads, too. I’ve happily discovered so many good books through that website: the Maisie Dobbs mystery series, In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden (my favorite read of 2020), and the Pages & Co. children’s series, plus many more. I think Goodreads introduced me to Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) by recommending I’d Rather Be Reading back in 2018, and I rely on her recommendations for recently published fiction. Reading user reviews is the #1 way I decide if a book is for me or not.

    Happy reading to you in 2021! Les Mis was a high school favorite of mine and I hope you enjoy the rest of it. It’s an emotional roller coaster but worth the ride.


    1. I LOVE the All Creatures Great and Small series! There are actually four books, you know! We read them aloud as a family a couple of years ago, and we laughed until our sides ached. I’m thoroughly enjoying the show, too. Our grandparents record it for us every Sunday and then we go to their house on Wednesday afternoons to watch the latest episodes 🙂

      I love Les Miserables, too. I’ve read it before, but this recent re-read was so much more compelling for me. It gets better the older you get, I think.

      Anne Bogel is fantastic! I have her book, Reading People, which explains all the different personality types/tests and how understanding them can help with relationships. Good stuff!


  3. Same thing happened to me in 2020- I started The Iliad in 2019, but finished in 2020.

    My 2021 TBRS so far:

    1. Chronicles of Narnia- finished
    2. Castle in the Air- finished
    3.. House of Many Ways- just started
    4. Hard Times
    5. Man Who Invented Christmas
    6. A Christmas Carol- due to reading Man Who Invented Christmas

    Just what I can think of for now


    1. I never knew the Man Who Invented Christmas movie was based on a book until I recently recorded a podcast about it! I love that movie–I’m sure the book will be wonderful!


  4. I just finished Walking on Water, and it was so good! It definitely lived up to all the expectations I had for it. This month I made myself finish all the books I’d been in the middle of for a while, and it is so nice to only be reading a few books at a time now.

    The Enlightenment of the Bees is on my TBR. I’ve really enjoyed the four books I’ve read on your recommendation.:)

    I think you’ll like Romanov a lot. Fawkes is my favorite by Nadine Brandes, but all of her books are hard to put down.


    1. Ohhhh, Walking on Water is one of my favorite nonfiction books! It made me fall in love with Madeleine L’Engle; I felt so mentored as an artist after I read it. I hope you enjoy The Enlightenment of Bees! Funnily enough, one of my younger sisters read it recently and didn’t really care for it, but she told me she thinks it’s because we have very different personalities and stories. Mia (the main character) and her story resonated with me far more than they did with my sister. It was very interesting!

      Romanov deeply intrigues me because I’ve always been obsessed with the real-life Romanovs; in fact, their story had as much influence on my own novel as The Lunar Chronicles did! I’ve actually seen Fawkes at my small local library, so I’m sure I’ll end up reading that one too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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